Yom Kippur is a day of opportunity, potential, greatness, forgiveness, and intimacy with the Creator. It is the day when we start our lives anew.
For me, Yom Kippur is, without exaggeration, one of the happiest days of the year. Yom Kippur is far more than the grumbling in your stomach, and even the fear of judgment. Yom Kippur is a day of opportunity, potential, greatness, forgiveness, and intimacy with the Creator.
It is the day when we start our lives anew. It is the day that God Almighty says, “I forgive you”. We have the ability to turn our sins into mitzvot (good deeds). As the Talmud teaches, “Where those who repent stand, not even the most righteous are able to stand.”
Allow me to share a parable from the famous storyteller, Rabbi Jacob Kranz, known as the “Maggid of Dubno” that helps illustrates the opportunity and potential of Yom Kippur:
There was once a scholarly young man from a poor family who lived in a small village. He was engaged to girl from a very wealthy family that lived in the large city nearby. The bride’s parents happily covered all the wedding expenses, leaving the groom’s side with only one request: that they dress their son, the groom, in a nice tailored suit that the city-dwellers were accustomed to wearing. The family willingly complied. The suit was commissioned. The results were impressive.
On the way to the wedding, the groom’s family was attacked by bandits who stole all their possessions, including the suitcase that contained the wedding suit. They arrived in the city with merely the dusty village clothes that they were already wearing. The father of the bride rushed his personal tailor to the scene and had new suits made for the groom and his father. The wedding was saved.
Nevertheless, the father of the groom became visibly depressed over what had occurred. The suits, the expense, the trauma of the robbery, the embarrassment of arriving with merely the clothes on their backs. He really wasn’t doing too well. The son, however, cheered him up. He said, “Dad, you know, what happened might actually have been for the best. I bet that my bride’s father wouldn’t have been happy anyway. I’m sure the tailors of our small village are no match for the tailors of the rich big city. He probably would not have liked the suits we brought anyway. This way, there could be no complaints with what we will be wearing to the wedding! They were personally ordered by the father of the bride!”
The message: Every year we arrive to Yom Kippur with the “suits” – our behaviors and actions – that we “tailored” all year long. Although we’ve put in much effort over the past year, there’s no doubt we have some regrets and could do things a little better. After all, we’re just amateur tailors! Although we’re all coming from the “little village” we really want to fit into the “big city” – the palace of the King.
The good news is: NO PROBLEM! By recommitting ourselves to the Torah and crowning God not merely as King of the Universe, but more importantly, King over ourselves, we’ll make the “guest list”.
And that’s why for me – Yom Kippur is the happiest day of the year!
Have a happy and meaningful Yom Kippur. Blessings from Israel!
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel